President Aquino’s appeal for “understanding” could only anger the people more, progressives say.
By DEE AYROSO
Progressive groups said President Aquino opened the Lenten season by “doing a Pontius Pilate” in his latest speech on the Mamasapano bloody clash, which could only anger the people even more.
Speaking today at the graduation of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) Lakandula class of 2015, Aquino appealed for “understanding,” saying that he is “fully responsible” for whatever success or failure in the nation’s security and peace.
“To every Filipino who has felt failure or has been hurt because of the events related to this operation: It is with the abiding humility that I ask for your deepest understanding,” the President said in what he called as “his last speech” on the incident.
Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon called Aquino’s speech a “non-apology apology,” which asked for understanding “but admitted nothing.”
“Note how the president didn’t even ask for the public’s forgiveness. He asked for understanding. Mr. President, the public understands – we the people understand that it is you at fault in this botched operation,” Ridon said.
“The President has purposefully and willfully missed the point in this speech. The point is to admit that he broke the chain of command, that he used the PNP SAF (Special Action Force) as cannon fodder, that he is ultimately responsible for the bloodshed in Mamasapano,” he said.
“Yet here is Aquino at his worst: showing not even an ounce of remorse for his criminal actions that led to the death of almost 70 Filipinos,” Ridon said.
Aquino repeated in his speech that he was not fully informed of the risks of the Mamasapano mission in the “version” presented to him, but did not name sacked Special Action Force chief Getulio Napeñas Jr and resigned PNP chief Alan Purisima. Neither was he informed of the heavy casualties of the SAF troops, he said.
“On the morning of January 25, there was no urgency in the text messages that were sent to me. From what was texted, it appeared to me as if the operation in Mamasapano had ended, or was coming to an end, because mechanized units and artillery were already providing assistance,” said the President.
Aquino also criticized the reports by the PNP Board of Inquiry and the Senate investigating committee. He said that although the reports “reaffirmed” his position that the “lack of coordination” was a major flaw in the Mamasapano operation, the reports failed to get his side.
“What saddens me is that at times, in lieu of asking me questions, those who prepared the reports chose to speculate instead. This leads us to ask: How can guesswork, instead of facts, help clarify this issue?” Aquino said.
The President also said that the tragic incident had marked his term.
“Regardless of my anger for the disregard for the orders I gave, regardless of my regret for trusting people who concealed the truth from me, I can never erase the fact: 44 members of our police force are dead. And this happened under my term. Let me stress it: I will bear this basic truth with me to my grave,” he said.
A recent survey showed that 79 % of the respondents were not satisfied with the President’s statements on the Mamasapano tragedy.
National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) secretary general Edre Olalia said the President’s speech only evaded the main questions in people’s minds.
“Do the unsatisfied 79 percent need to spell it out? He deliberately and obstinately continues to skirt the issue of why he dealt with people who are not supposed to be in the loop and excluded people who are supposed to be,” said Olalia.
Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate said that with the President’s speech, his popularity will even more decline, as he “continues to lie on his accountability on the Mamasapano incident .. this will only further anger the Filipino people.”
Zarate cited the Pulse Asia survey which showed Aquino’s trust rating nose diving from 56 percent to 36 percent.
“The result of the survey only confirms the fallacy of the so-called anti-poverty programs of the Aquino administration. Running in billions and billions of pesos in budget but what it did is to mainly engage in dole-out programs that in most cases even made our poor as mendicants. In truth these programs are mere smokescreen to the anti-poor neo-liberal economic policies of the Aquino government that mostly favoured and benefitted the oligarchs,” Zarate said.
Kilusang Mayo Uno chair Elmer Labog said that progressive groups will continue to intensify protests “after Holy Week until Labor Day and beyond until Aquino says the following in a televised speech: I resign.”